H-1B Visa Status

The H-1B temporary worker visa is designated for individuals coming temporarily to the United States to perform services in a specialty occupation.

A specialty occupation is defined as one that requires “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum requirement."

The hiring department must provide documentation to prove that the job requires a person with special qualifications and that the foreign scholar meets those qualifications. Further, the department is required to pay a salary to the foreign scholar. The individual’s paycheck must come from the hiring entity (Idaho State University or an affiliated hospital).

The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) makes the final decision on whether the individual qualifies for the H-1B classification.

The H-1B visa is employer specific, which means that a USCIS approved petition that was submitted by the IPO authorizes the scholar to work only in the position specified in the petition. Further, a scholar who has an H-1B approval from another employer is not automatically eligible to work at Idaho State.

An H-1B worker may work for more than one employer, but each employer must file a separate H-1B visa petition.

Six-Year Length Of Stay Allowed

H-1B visa holders are eligible for a total maximum stay of six years.

The initial H-1B visa may cover a period up to three years. Since this six-year limit is strictly enforced, it is important to plan accordingly.

The six-year limit includes time spent on the H-1B at another institution. It may be possible to begin another six-year period as an H-1B after the individual has spent at least one year outside the United States.

H-4 Dependents

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of an H-1B are eligible for H-4 status. H-4 visa holders are not permitted to work.

If an H-4 dependent qualifies for specialty occupation in his or her own right, a change of status to H-1B is necessary before employment can begin.

H-4 dependents may study in the United States, full- or part-time, for the duration of H-1B’s period of stay.

Who is Eligible?

H-1B status is an appropriate classification for Idaho State University academic staff, with the following exceptions:

  • Visiting Scientists and Visiting Scholars are ineligible for H-1B status. Visiting scientists and scholars may be selected for participation in the Exchange Visitor Program. For more information on this program, go to our Visiting Scholar page.
  • Alien graduates of foreign medical schools who are coming to the United States to practice medicine, or undertake clinical training in a residency or fellowship, are ineligible for H-1B status unless certain conditions are met, including having passed all three steps of the USMLE. Idaho State University is not approved to accept J-1 Foreign Medical Graduates; therefore, we are unable to sponsor them as a visiting scholar.
  • Research and Clinical Technologists may qualify for H-1B status if the position requires a bachelor’s degree or higher. As a general rule, the University will not support H-1B applications for other occupational classifications. The IPO may consider other requests for H-1B status on a case-by-case basis.
  • The University does not support H-1B sponsorship of classified or professional administrative staff.

If you are a prospective employee, please contact your hiring department about beginning the H-1B sponsorship process.

The following documentation must be submitted to IPO:

  • H-1B Non-Immigrant Questionnaire
  • Copy of the offer letter from the employing department addressed to the beneficiary describing the terms and duration of the employment.
      • The letter should include a description of the services to be performed by the beneficiary, minimum qualifications necessary for performing the duties and how the beneficiary meets those qualifications, dates of employment, and salary (which must meet or exceed the department of labor prevailing wage for the state).
  • Copy of the beneficiary’s curriculum vitae.
  • Copies of the beneficiary’s degree(s), diplomas and transcripts, or documents which demonstrate that the beneficiary has the academic background and technical training required for the job.
      • The beneficiary must be fully qualified for the position at the time the petition is filed with the USCIS.
  • Foreign language documents must be accompanied with a full English translation certified by the translator as complete and correct.
  • If the beneficiary is currently in the US, include a legible photocopy of his/her Form I-94 “Arrival/Departure Record” (both sides) and photocopies of any and all other immigration documents previously issued to the beneficiary (e.g. forms I-20, DS2019, forms I-797 and notice of action for any previous changes in status that were granted).
  • Copies of passport and visas issued.
  • Graduates of foreign medical schools must provide additional documentation to qualify for H-1B status in order to practice medicine in the U.S., or undertake clinical training in a residency or fellowship.
      • Full licensing is required BEFORE applying for the H1-B status.
  • $460 H-1B application fee. This check should be made payable to the Department of Homeland Security.

Download the H-1B Documentation Checklist for an overview of the required documentation from the department and the employee.

The forms required by the department can be downloaded here:

NOTE: Utilization of firms that have not been pre-approved need to be cleared through the IPO and General Counsel’s Office.

Hiring Department Process:

  1. Hiring Department Requests Sponsorship.
  2. The hiring department and faculty member consult with the International Programs Office (IPO) via telephone, e-mail or in person, to ensure that H-1B is the appropriate visa option and that individual meets criteria.
  3. Department and faculty member finalize cost details.
  4. The department and faculty member work out details regarding who will pay what fees/costs.   
    The ISU academic department must pay the $500.00 anti-fraud fee. The faculty member or ISU may pay the following costs:
    1. Filing fee of $460 to USCIS
    2. Dependent H-4 filed with principal - Filing fee for I-539 of $370 (one application covers spouse and all children under 21)
    3. Dependent H-4 filed alone - Filing fee for I-539 of $370 (one application covers spouse and all children under 21)
    4. Request for Premium Processing – Filing Fee of $1225  Note: As of July 24, 2017, USCIS has resumed premium processing for universities. Premium processing is highly recommended for all applicants with employment start dates within the next four months.
    5. Misc. expenses for courier, copies etc. of estimated $80
  5. Department notifies IPO of intent to sponsor
  6. The department sends IPO the following all together:
    1. All items outlined in the H-1B Documentation Checklist
    2. Form I-129 (E), ISU Supplemental Export Control Questionnaire
      • Hiring supervisor completes and signs, forwards to Department Chair
      • Department Chair reviews I-129(E) and signs – forwards to Dean
      • Dean reviews and signs – forwards to IPO
  7. IPO sends Form I-129 (E), ISU Supplemental Export Control Questionnaire to the Office for Research Export Control Office (ECO) for review and approval.
  8. ECO returns the Form I-129 (E), ISU Supplemental Export Control Questionnaire to IPO, attesting to Part 6 of the primary I-129 form.

    **H-1B paperwork that will need to be to submitted United States Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS) will be on hold until the “Form I-129 (E), ISU Supplemental Export Control Questionnaire” is returned to the International Programs Office.**
  9. IPO will complete the I-129 form.

Please note LCA Application Steps take place concurrently with the above steps.

  1. IPO obtains prevailing wage from the Department of Labor (DOL)
  2. Initiated LCA and Notice of Filing
  3. Director of IPO prepares and emails the initiated LCA and Notice of Filing to Human Resources for posting for 10 days.
      • Included in the email will also be the obtained prevailing wage, which will be included in Public Access File.
  4. The Notice of Filing LCA posting is placed in 2 conspicuous locations for 10 business days and HR proceeds to email immigration attorney’s office immediately after posting to confirm that the posting period has begun.
  5. Public Access File
  6. At the same time, IPO will compile the Public Access File for applicant. It is required that the Public Access File is initiated as soon as notices are posted.
    1. Included in the Public Access File:LCA Cover Pages
    2. Initiated LCA (replaced by Certified LCA when available)
    3. Wage rate, which is included in LCA
    4. Description of Actual Wage System
    5. Copy of prevailing wage and it’s source
    6. Notices of Filing LCA (2) – when 10 day posting period is completed
    7. Summary of benefits
  7. LCA submitted to DOL through iCERT
  8. IPO will proceed to certify the LCA electronically through the Department of Labor’s iCert program, which according to DOL regulations may take 7 to 10 business days for an official decision to be made about the LCA.
  9. IPO submits H-1B petition to USCIS

**The IPO will hold off on sending the packet if the “Export Control I-129 Compliance Form” has not been returned. This will delay the processing time it takes to get the H-1B for the employee.**

  1. IPO will ask HR to remove the LCA posting notices at appropriate time, sign the notices and add them to Public Access File.
  2. Filing of LCA
  3. IPO will file the LCA with USCIS attesting on behalf of the University that:
    1. The H-1B employee will be paid at least the actual wage or “prevailing wage,”whichever is higher.
    2. The employment of the H-1B individual will not adversely affect the working conditions for other workers similarly employed.
    3. At the time of filing the LCA there are no layoffs, strikes, lockouts or work stoppages in the H-1B individual’s occupation.
    4. A copy of the LCA will be posted for 10 business days in two places on the employer’s premises.

Please note Department Initiation Steps take place concurrently with the above steps.

  1. LCA Certification
  2. Once the LCA is certified, 1 copy is placed in Public Access File and 1 copy is given to Faculty member along with Acknowledgement of Receipt of LCA.
    1. IPO sends hard copy to faculty member no later than the first day of employment.
    2. Faculty member signs receipt and returns it to IPO as record that the LCA was provided.
  3. USCIS issues Receipt of Filing to employer

    If H-1B is portable, I-9 can be completed at this time and employment can begin.
  1. Approval Notice
    1. I-797 Approval Notice is received in about 2-5 months (2-5 weeks if it was premium processed).
    2. IPO will send approval packet to faculty member.
    3. IPO will contact employee and department regarding approval.
    4. Approval Packet is ready and can be picked up. (If this is the initial H-1B for this person, I-9 can be completed at this time and employment can begin).
    5. Faculty member updates records with new visa status (i.e. I-9 Forms, tax status, immigration database, etc.) to HR, Payroll, and IPO.

If Faculty member ends employment either voluntarily or involuntarily prior to H-1B visa end date (Receipt Notice End Date), the IPO must be notified.

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Pocatello, Idaho, 83209

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